Liberia Celebrates Public Service Day; President Boakai Honored as the Longest Public Servant

Bill Jarkloh and Joseph N. N. Swen

The day, though, fell on Sunday, June 23rd, and was celebrated on Monday, June 24, 2024, with Sunday being a worship day in the Christian-dominated country of Liberia. Due to the epic nature of the day, a proclamation under the signature of His Excellency Ambassador Joseph Nyuma Boakai, Sr., President of the Republic of Liberia, was earlier published as required and subsequently read at the occasion by Ms. Sylvia Squire, a public servant employed at the Civil Service Agency.

Portraying elegance and glamor, the Ball Room of the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Ministerial Complex in Congo Town, where the Day was commemorated in grand style, was decorated with red, white, and blue chairs and with an elevated stage mounted by dignitaries.

It was about 11:05 AM when the AFL Band started to run an interlude of music depicting the attraction of the occasion, and no sooner the Master of Ceremony mounted the podium to announce the arrival of dignitaries as Senate Pro-Tempore Nyonblee Kangar-Lawrence and the Speaker of the Liberian House of Representives, Honorable Jonathan Fonati Koffa, into the ballroom to join Hon. Josiah F. Joekai, Jr., Director-General of the Civil Service Agency, amongst other officials of government, including scores of public servants from Ministries, Agencies, and Commissions, who had earlier arrived at the hall to grace the auspicious occasion.
As the program officially opened, Hon. Josiah F. Joekai, Jr., who was the convener-in-chief of the Public Service Day, took to the podium to deliver his message after a very powerful invocation by the Lutheran Church Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Victor G. Padmore.

Liberia’s Civil Service Agency Director-General, Hon. Joekai, said the theme underscores the importance of enhancing digital technology to improve service delivery, increase transparency, and make government operations more efficient and accessible.

In his statement, he lauded the unwavering commitment to excellence of public servants that ensure Liberia can meet the needs of its community, uphold the principles of good governance, and respond to the challenges of our time with resilience and innovation.

The Director-General said, Public servants are the very foundation of our society. “Their role is not just crucial but indispensable, as they are the ones who implement public policies, provide services, and foster an environment of trust and efficiency. “The dedication you exhibit daily is what helps build a more inclusive, effective, and responsive public service,” he asserted.

As we gathered to celebrate the achievements and dedication of public servants, Hon. Joekai said, we also reflected on the values that guide work, which he named ‘transparency, accountability, and a steadfast commitment to the public good.’

The CSA Director General indicated that these principles are the cornerstone of a robust and responsive public service, embodied in the efforts of each and every public servant.

This year’s global theme of Public Service Day is “Fostering Innovation amid Global Challenges: A Public Sector Perspective,” and the CSA Director General noted that theme underscores the importance of enhancing digital technology to improve service delivery, increase transparency, and make government operations more efficient and accessible.

In the transparent and inclusive nomination process involving all 103 spending entities of the government, His Excellency Joseph N. Boakai was unanimously adjudged and honored as the longest-serving public servant, while the longest-serving Deputy Finance and Development Planning Minister, Tanneh G. Brunson, and the Civil Service Agency’s Principal Administrative Officer (PAO), Mr. Alfred Drosaye, were both honored as the best public servant and the best civil servant, respectively.

Eulogizing the honorees, Hon. Joekai said, “To our esteemed awardees and honorees, your services and contributions are exemplary and truly outstanding. Your dedication sets a high standard and serves as a reminder of what we can achieve when we work together with purpose and passion.”
He further said that their achievements were a testament to the impact of innovative approaches and collaborative efforts in public service, reminding us of the power of dedication and creativity in overcoming challenges.

Earlier on, the Senate Pro-tempore, Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Kangar Lawrence, served as the keynote speaker. Among other things, the Senate leader said, “We have achieved much to become one in dedication.”

The Senator noted that the essence of public service is to respond to the needs of the public to ensure that every citizen and resident develops the mind to deliver effective and efficient services that enhance the quality of life on the land.

She said that, despite the numerous challenges, the public servants of Liberia have been the backbone of our nation’s progress. She pointed out that despite the inadequate and limited resources, the public service of Liberia has not faced complex situations that often hampered their ability to perform optimally, which she said is a testament to the strength of the Liberian public sector, the cornerstone of our nation.

Also remarking, the Speaker of the House of Representative called public servants the “bedrock” of the governance system of Liberia and congratulated the Liberian public servants on the occasion of the celebration of Public Service Day.

Other speakers at the occasion include Unity Party Secretary General and LPRC Managing Director Amos Tweh, who urged public servants to continue to uphold the highest standard of service as the Unity Party government is committed to doing things differently, and the President of the Civil Servants Association of Liberia, Moibah Johnson, who showers praise on DG Joekai, who said it is a trademark for civil servants.
“Your work in the CSA is intended to increase our little salaries and continue it. We have seen you. But your other colleagues are suppressing us in other ministries; they are witch-hunting us.”

The CSAL’s president indicated that this government has come on the mantra of change, saying, “We don’t want the change to fight us, or we will be prepared to fight back. He then called on the Legislature of Liberia to enact laws that would protect civil and public servants.

Christine Umutoni, UN Resident Coordinator to Liberia, on behalf of Liberia’s development partners, congratulated Liberia’s public servants and thereafter read a special message from the United Nations’ Secretary General.

The Public Service Day Celebration was quite a memorable event! The combination of the African Union anthem, Liberia’s national anthems, and the captivating melody from Jesse Sonpon created a vibrant atmosphere as they got attendees at the edges of their respective seats.

Hon. Dahnu Mianyen, CSA’s Deputy Director-General for Administration and Finance and chair of the organizing committee, couldn’t have held back his appreciation for the two distinguished leaders of the National Legislature, including officials of government and religious leaders, who graced and fully participated in the celebration. Hon. Mianyen could not have stopped without applauding all public servants for turning out to celebrate themselves, including the corporate sponsors, for their financial and material contributions in bringing logical success to the day.

Public Service Day originates from the first Pan African Conference of Ministers of Public and Civil Service held in Tangier, Morocco, in 1994. The United Nations adopted and designated June 23 as Public Service Day, which coincides with African Public Service Day. Since 2002, this date has become an entrenched strategic event on the calendars of both the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN).

The day is celebrated to honor public servants’ contributions to global society. It highlights creative projects, encourages cross-border cooperation, and emphasizes the importance of accountable, transparent, and efficient governance.

The day also served as a reminder of the priceless contributions made by public servants and their critical role in the upkeep and advancement of global societies, as well as acknowledging the devotion and hard work of individuals employed in government and public administration in harmony with their efforts to advance public welfare and improve the lives of citizens.

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